Directed by Woody Allen
Written by Woody Allen
Starring: Jeannie Berlin, Steve Carell, Jesse Eisenberg, Blake Lively, Parker Posey, Kristen Stewart, Corey Stoll and Ken Stott
“Café Society” may be a far cry from Woody Allen’s best work, and is not his best recent work, but it is leaps and bounds ahead of its immediate predecessor “Irrational Man.” “Café Society” is a movie that highlights the classic Allen quirk and wit, and the movie falls squarely into a genre that Allen not only works well in but is the same genre that Allen had revolutionized in 1977 with “Annie Hall.” That genre is, of course, the romantic comedy. “Café Society” defiantly follows the formula that Allen established for the romantic comedy in “Annie Hall” although it does not add anything new to this formula. Which is more than a little upsetting because it may indicate that Allen is not the inspired filmmaker he once was.
The fascinating part of “Café Society” was that the movie briefly touches on aspects of 1930s Hollywood and New York high society that are mirrors of the attitudes of the same in the 2010s. The Hollywood and high society of the 1930s may be acting as an allegory for the contemporary, but I believe that may be unintentional because I do not think that Allen wanted to draw those comparisons, and it is all too brief to bear any symbolic or thematic significance. I thought that Allen should have explored this aspect of the film more because then the movie would have carried more weight and would have been a more engrossing movie overall.
“Café Society” share one aspect with its many predecessors in the comedy genre, that is the essential function played by the film’s ensemble. The movies ensemble is bursting with name brand talent, who all bring excellent performances, despite no one in the ensemble giving a pyrotechnic performance which allows for a well-balanced ensemble. Clearly, Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart – a good performance, considering her wooden reputation – are the stars of the movie and the main characters. As such they are given a majority of the screen time, but that is not a detriment to the rest of the ensemble because this film is a strong ensemble comedy. The rest of the ensemble provide the movie with excellent comic performances and the most memorable scenes from the movie.
Overall, I enjoyed “Café Society” as a piece of entertainment; it is a movie that is fun to watch and hilarious. My enjoyment of “Café Society” certainly may be more than a little influenced by my love of strong ensemble pieces. Based on the reaction of the audience in the theater with me, I feel confident saying that this movie is a funny and fun movie by just about any objective definition.